Astute readers will notice that recently I’ve been obsessing somewhat about puff pastry. This should be your last puff pastry recipe for a bit – use a roll from the supermarket chiller cabinet or make your own using the recipe for curry puffs.
Dried wild mushrooms are great. A small handful, especially when simmered for a long time with the meat as in this dish, will infuse the whole pie with a wonderful rich, earthy fragrance. I’ve also used some fresh mushrooms here to bulk out the pie and to add some texture. Try different kinds of mushroom when you make this – my dried mushrooms were cepes, summer boletes and girolles, while I chose lovely firm little Crimini mushrooms (a bit like button mushrooms, but a darker chestnut colour) to add at the end.
A note on the pastry decoration – a pastry rose on top of a pie is, in Lincolnshire, where my Great Grandma lived, a visual cue to remind you in the larder that it’s a meat pie, and not a fruit pie. Just make a small pastry spiral for the centre and glue on some petals around the outside with some beaten egg.
To serve two (heartily) you’ll need:
1 lb stewing steak, diced
8 shallots, quartered
3 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon flour
1 small handful dried mushrooms
1 punnet fresh mushrooms
Juice of ½ a lemon
1 wine glass vermouth
½ pint good stock
Salt and pepper
Olive oil and butter to fry
1 egg, beaten
Brown the steak in batches in the olive oil, and remove to a plate. Set aside. Sauté the shallots in the same oil with two cloves of sliced garlic until they are soft, with brown edges. Return the meat to the pan with a tablespoon of flour and stir well. Add the mushrooms and their soaking liquid. Pour over the vermouth and the stock, and simmer with no lid on a low heat for an hour or so, until the sauce is thick and reduced.
Sauté the chopped fresh mushrooms in butter with another clove of garlic in a separate pan. When they give up their juices, add the lemon juice, and continue to cook until nearly all the liquid is gone. Stir into the reduced meat and mushroom pan, and season the whole mixture to taste.
Transfer the mixture to a pie dish and top with pastry. Cut a hole in the centre to allow the steam to escape, and decorate with a rose, glazing with the beaten egg. Bake the pie at 200° C for 25 minutes, until brown and glossy.